Map of the Byzantine Empire 1092 AD

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At the death of the Emperor Basil II in 1025 Byzantium stood apparently unassailable; the premier power of medieval europe and the middle east. Half a century later the situation was very different. Byzantium had lost control over its heartland in Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks and the empire also had to fight desperately to resist invasion from the Normans, based in southern Italy.

The reasons for this dramatic reversal are manifold, and controversial, but include periods of misrule, military breakdown, the nature of Turkish settlement in Asia Minor, and structural changes in economy and society which made maintainance of the self-contained and centralised Byzantine state more difficult.

However dire the situation though, Byzantium was about to stage another of its remarkable recoveries. Since 1081 the Empire at least had an able and extremely determined ruler; the Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, aided by a number of able family members and colleagues, not the least of which was the Emperor's mother, Anna Dalessena, who administered the Empire's affairs whilst Alexios was on campaign.

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